Ever heard of miracle berries? They’re a small, red berry produced by the shrub Richardella (=Synsepalum) dulcifica with the ability to modify your sour-sensing taste buds. After consuming a berry, things that normally taste sour, all of a sudden taste sweet.Read More
This month’s mutualism is between tetrodotoxin-producing bacteria and their many hosts.
Until recently, the origin of the tetrodotoxin (TTX) in pufferfish was unknown. TTX was first isolated by chemists from the ovaries of pufferfish in 1950. It was thought to be a toxin found exclusively within pufferfish (hence its naming after the pufferfish family Tetraodontidae), until it was found in the California newt Taricha torosa. After its discovery in newts, TTX was rapidly isolated from a diversity of animal species completely unrelated to each other, including several frogs, an octopus, several marine snails, a crab, and a starfish. This raised an interesting question: did all these animals evolve the ability to produce tetrodotoxin separately or is there some common factor?Read More
Have you ever had the feeling that your pet was your best friend or like a child to you? Turns out, that’s normal! Interactions between you and your pet have real, measurable positive effects on the health of both you and your dog. Studies show that when you interact with your dog, a hormone called oxytocin is released into your bloodstream. Oxytocin is frequently referred to as the "trust" or "love" hormone.Read More